Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Starring Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, and David Harbour
With a gang of Russians, a fair amount of blood, and shot after shot of Denzel Washington in slow motion, The Equalizer checks off every stereotype for the action movie genre. Washington stars as McCall, a man with a mysterious past trying to return to a quiet life. When he finds out that a young girl, Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), is brutally controlled by a Russian gang, McCall seeks justice in the form of violence. He must once again take up his role as “The Equalizer,” punishing those who do harm.
The film’s mellow beginning stereotypically highlights McCall’s character as an average citizen, following him through his daily life at the HomeMart, his house, and the local diner. The gorgeous cinematography highlights director Antoine Fuqua’s eye for light and composition in the Boston-filmed set, with shots of the Boston skyline, the Charles River, and the MBTA. It’s certainly a slow start, but it leaves the audience to question exactly what moment will make McCall snap to finally get the plot rolling.
Marton Csokas plays Teddy, the boss of the Russian gang, masterfully. Teddy radiates an insistent hunger for power over his fellow gangsters and the helpless women in his control. With a distinctive Cockney British accent and a tailored suit, Csokas’ smooth-talking character exudes the sliminess of a sociopathic villain. Csokas gives a delightful performance, but his character is remarkably one-sided, with little to distinguish him from any other thriller movie bad guy.
Be prepared to look away if you’re not one for blood and gore, as the film manages to make use of practically every type of violence throughout McCall’s gruesome spree. Thankfully, the spurts of blood are pleasantly balanced with bursts of humor throughout the film.
With the exception of a few important names here and there, the movie itself is also simple enough that it could easily be followed without words. Straightforward and predictable, the plot is far from original, but it still built a few moments of intense suspense during the film. Nevertheless, stereotypical action movie elements are stereotypical for a reason: they engage the audience. Even though The Equalizer may have included just a few explosions too many, the two hours I spent watching weren’t wasted — Washington skillfully doling out revenge is reason enough to see the film.